I was heading down to Townsville via the Greyhound bus, which was by far the cheapest and easiest way to travel around East Australia. Now, 6 hour bus trips are hosted in my special circle of hell, but given I’d survived the Asia routes, and Greyhound in Australia is well regarded, figured it was my best shot.
However, I had to be there 20 minutes early, which meant between getting up, ready and walking there with my bag 6am would be my best bet. Unfortunately, my body decided that meant getting up at least 2 hours before I actually had to. I finally gave up and dragged myself out and into the courtyard and wasted time by calling family members. Not a small task since it was the morning of the 18th back in the UK and the day of the Scottish Referendum – a lot of opinions and a lot of arguments. I sadly don’t get a vote since I’ve been away for 6 months and hadn’t realised I needed to fill out different forms if I wanted to be included, but at least it meant I didn’t have to choose (was see sawing between both options – though think I would have voted yes on the day).
This early hour, and the added bonus of my bag being too heavy to carry around long term, resulted in me going into the next door newsagent and getting the only thing I thought I could eat at the time – a very tiny tangerine and an apple.
This had to keep me going for the trip – I was screwed. And as an added bonus, my iPod has gotten into the habit of turning on by itself – and as I turned it on during the trip, discovered it had done just that last night, and drained the battery down to less than 20% – and I was on the bus for teh next 6 hours.
Thankfully, relief came after about 3 hours, when we stopped off in the small beachfront town of Cardwell, right next to a cafe. Only had 30 minutes, but I was starving, and was nearly first in line so felt confident enough in ordering the breakfast dish.
Not my smartest decision, because it took nearly 20 minutes to get the thing in my hands, and wasn’t available as takeaway. I was one of the last served, and meant I had to steal a plastic dish to shove the last of it into before dashing back to the bus. That said, what I did get to enjoy while sitting in the restaurant was really good, and managed to make small talk with another girl on the bus, Lily, who was heading for Mission Beach. Who thankfully had her chargers in her hand luggage and offered to let me use it. When we got on the bus, hopped alongside her for the rest of the trip. She’d been in Australia about as long as I had, but was heading back to the UK in a few weeks for a job.
We rolled into Townsville just before 2pm, a good 15 minutes ahead of schedule, and immediately lug my bag into the building and text my host Annita. With a little texting and calling and missing each other, we finally met up, and I got to meet the couple I’ll be working with for the next 3 months. They run a mango orchard, and I’ll be helping out on the orchard prepping the place for the harvest in addition to doing housework – and when mango picking season starts up, work on the harvesting too.
The orchard is a good 30 minutes away, and my hosts either commute or stay at the orchard overnight to cut down on fuel when necessary. The house itself is situated just off a main road, between Townsville and Ayr (and literally has nothing but farmland and roads for miles), and run completely on solar power. Its just them, their 2 house dogs Honey and Abby, a cat called Izzy, the outside dog Laila, a large cockatoo called Charlie, a mother turkey and her one surviving chick (aka, Christmas Dinner) and a coop full of chickens alongside a bossy rooster.
Be interesting to see what its like living so isolated – the orchard will be just as bad the nights I stay over as there its also in the middle of nowhere. Closer to Ayr admittedly, but would still need a car to make it there and back.
Wont be doing daily updates while I’m at the orchard since it’ll probably be the exact same every time. Work, play with dogs, work, dinner, repeat. Probably update once a week or so, plus any trips around the area if I get the chance.